Global Goal Summary:
The world is urbanizing and expanding at an exponential rate. Without planning for urbanization properly, the future will be full of overpopulated areas, large amounts of poor housing conditions, and will be littered of adverse environmental effects. Only together, as people of this Earth, can we help better plan for tomorrow.
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Since the time of the first civilizations, urbanization has been a thing that affected the world and its development. In the Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution, in around 10,000 BCE, the world underwent a significant population growth, relative to the world’s size, the creation of new technologies, and specialization of labor. These changes caused the creation of civilizations to become more city-like, becoming city-states, better known as civilizations undergoing urbanization. However, early civilizations that were successful during this time, like the Sumerians, utilized grid planning in order to plan the growth of their city-state properly. This type of thinking was revolutionary for its time, and it allowed for these civilizations to urbanize properly.
The nation home to the world’s largest democracy, India contains one third or the world’s population, and their government was not even close to prepared for this mass urbanization to occur. As a result of this, India’s infrastructure has become abysmal, alongside the massive increase in slums. The cities became, and still are, barely sustainable, for those America would classify as the working class, working poor, and those in poverty. India’s infrastructure has been the first casualty and will not be the last. The river known as the Ganges River has religious ties to the Hindu faith, which is the dominant religion of India. By the mass overcrowding, the river and others like these are being used because people are not readily accessible to proper baths and access to drinkable water. India is in the beginning stages of recognizing this problem, but they are far from fixing it. India is failing to prepare when it comes to their population, but when their population truly embraces urbanization, they need to be ready.
The continent of Africa is the largest growing urbanization center in the world. The productivity level of the cities is more than double what it is in the countryside. For those who live in, or frequently visit Africa, the incremental rise in the urban population is clear. However, so is the amount of slums, lack of schools, poor transportation, water shortages, unpaved roads, and environmental impacts. Every time urbanization takes hold without proper planning, failure to correctly take care of one’s infrastructure quickly follows. For instance, in South Sudan, approximately 90 percent of the urban population live in slums. Furthermore, Nigeria’s capital has urbanized by around 700 percent since 1995, more than any other major African city.
United Nation/International Action on the Topic:
In 1976, the United Nations General Assembly decided to hold the first United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III. This conference is a bi-decennial cycle (1976, 1996 and 2016) one. Habitat III offers an opportunity to discuss the importance to properly plan and manage cities, towns, and village for urbanization. As well as, to fulfill their role as drivers of sustainable development, and how they can shape the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The most recent of the conferences occurred from 17-20 of October 2016 and was the first UN global summit on urbanization since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During this conference, world leaders adopted the New Urban Agenda which set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way the world manage, plan, and live in cities through cooperation with dedicated partners, essential stakeholders, and urban participants at all levels of government as well as the civil society and the private sector. The New Urban Agenda represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future. If well-planned and well-managed, urbanization can be a powerful tool for sustainable development for both developing and developed countries. The problem is far from over; however, the UN and the rest of the international community are working diligently to solve it.
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Since even before man could write, humans faced the problem of urbanization. History shows how we, as humans, have dealt with the problem before. It is reflected by the UN, for during the Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution proper urban planning by using grid planning was used because it was that simple. Now, the UN looks back and has learned that if urbanization is well-planned and well-managed, there will be a success. There is a famous quote from George Santayana who states, “those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” which has been added on by others says, “however those who remember the past, are condemned to watch everyone else repeat it.” However, the statement should honestly read as follows, “those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it; however, those who remember the past, must not be complacent and help lead the world by using the teachings of the past.” History contains every choice, action, reaction, mistake, and success to ever occur, ever. If man does not learn from the past, then the world cannot move forward.
- “Africa Is the Fastest Urbanizing Place on the Planet.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/blog/africa-fastest-urbanizing-place-planet.
- “Africa’s Rapid Urban Population Growth Is Problematic, but Can Be Managed.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/blog/africas-rapid-urban-population-growth-problematic-can-be-managed.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Industrial Revolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 May 2019, www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution.
- Editors, History.com. “Neolithic Revolution.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Jan. 2018, www.history.com/topics/pre-history/neolithic-revolution.
- “Real Time World Statistics.” Worldometers, www.worldometers.info/.
- Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Urbanization.” Our World in Data, 13 June 2018, ourworldindata.org/urbanization.
- “Saving a River: Pollution in India’s Holy Ganges Makes It Toxic.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 18 Jan. 2019, www.reuters.com/article/us-india-ganges/saving-a-river-pollution-in-indias-holy-ganges-makes-it-toxic-idUSKCN1PC0CT.
- “Sustainability, Urban Concerns, and the Indian Elections.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/blog/sustainability-urban-concerns-and-indian-elections.
- “Urbanization and Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 7 Dec. 2010, www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/4/10-010410/en/.
- “Urbanization Effects.” Urbanization Causes and Impacts | National Geographic, 12 Mar. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/urban-threats/.
- “Urbanization in Developing Countries: Current Trends, Future Projections, and Key Challenges for Sustainability.” Technology in Society, Pergamon, 20 Dec. 2005, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160791X05000588.
United Nation/International Action on the Topic:
- “Cities – United Nations Sustainable Development Action 2015.” United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cities/.
- “Documents & Archive.” Habitat III, habitat3.org/documents-and-archive/.
- “The Conference.” Habitat III, habitat3.org/the-conference/.
- “The Engagement.” Habitat III, habitat3.org/engagement/.
- “The New Urban Agenda.” Habitat III, habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda/.